Growing up with Oothukaadu


I was introduced to Oothukaadu songs when I was about ten years old. My mother, along with some neighbourhood ladies had early evening classes by a musician on “Oothukkaadu keerthanaigal”. My mother hardly ventured out to formally learn stuff-  music has been the occasional “venturing out to classes” time for her. On the days I came early from school I would accompany her to this class. I was quite smitten by Oothukkaadu songs even then- just for something that felt melodious and simple to my ears!

I have also had the privilege of dancing to a few Oothukkadu songs. Aadathu Asangathu set in Madhyamavati being my favourite. So Sri Venkatasubbier has been a significant part of my childhood. To me his Krishna-bhakti was something to admire and wonder about in my college days!

My English literature days in college, also expanded my view about a composition. I could see the versatility in Oothukadu Iyer and how he brought life and visualization to relationships especially between Krishna and his mother Yashoda (Thaaye Yashoda stands out here) or the Lord and His devotee (the composer himself, perhaps) (e.g. Alai paayude)

Over a period of time I saw something more than simplicity and melody or elementary literary features in his compositions. A case to delineate is the masterpiece “Maadu meikkum Kanne…”.

A great piece of conversation between Krishna, the child and his mother Yashoda. Well, actually it sounds more like a vivada!

Yashoda uses multiple tactics to stop Krishna who wants to go out to play and rear the cattle. It is interesting to see the step-by-step “graded” approach the mother takes and how little Krishna deals with every attempt his mother makes. Let’s explore this a bit…

The first approach is “bribe”- perhaps the most basic level of getting someone to do something you want them to do. Yashoda lures Krishna with things that he really likes- milk, butter, sugar etc. There is also a subtle hint at the heat outside (veyyil), showing the typical concern of a mother.

Krishna is not the one to succumb to these base temptations! He is clear that he doesn’t want these and that there’s greater pleasure in cattle-grazing! Also,  he says “oru nodiyil thirumbiduven” (will be back in a jiffy!) to convince the mother.

Yashoda, grades up to use a  “threat” now. She reminds Krishna that the banks of the river Yamuna is known for thieves! “And these thieves could beat you up” she says. She puts forth, very gently, the consequence too, – “if they beat you up, you will be affected” is her logic. Little Krishna outsmarts her with his self-confidence. He is not the one who can be threatened by fear! He is a self-proclaimed “the thief among thieves!!”

Does the perseverent Yashoda give up yet? No way! If Krishna is not scared of human beings, would he give up in “fear of wild animals”?  Krishna is not the one to be perturbed. He is confident of managing even forest animals, in style.

Now comes the master stroke from Yashoda- “emotional appeal” at its best with an allusion to Krishna’s father! He will look for little Krishna, won’t he? Krishna’s response here blends the height of assertiveness and elan. 🙂

A beautiful conversation indeed- of logic, reasoning and appropriate responses showing the character of Krishna and his mother in such beautiful light. And set to a melody that makes anyone tap their feet and the heart melt- not just in the visualization of Krishna-Yashoda but in  literary nuances, whether one consciously analyses or not. May the great Venkatakavi live long through his heartwarming compositions!

P.S : Enjoy Aruna Sairam’s rendition of this song!




2 responses to this post.

  1. Loved reading the analysis 🙂 Bhakti is fascinating to me, and Oothukadu exemplified the tradition! I must thank you for introducing me to this delightful song of his!


  2. Posted by Chitra Ravi on November 23, 2015 at 7:50 AM

    🙂 thank you


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